• neilwatkins6

Does this school's story seem familiar to you?

This true story from a school in the East of England highlights some of the challenges facing many schools today...and the big improvements that can be made with the right help and support.

School X had a problem with its IT.  A large Primary school, it's server was ageing, out of warranty and in danger of falling over. It wasn’t sure whether it was fully licensed, or using licenses illegally.  Kit in the classrooms was old and slow. Teachers didn’t trust it to work in lessons.  Some of the WIFI boxes on the wall flashed red...they didn't know if that was good or bad  The school were paying bills for things they didn’t know about or understand.  The admin assistant was backing up the server onto tape, and taking it home for “safe-keeping”.  The IT technician spent a lot of time in his room, cannibalising old laptops and PCs to keep them running.  Still, some were taking 10 minutes to boot up at the start of the lesson. And worryingly, the kids seemed to know more about the technology than the teachers, they were getting past the filtering and accessing inappropriate sites in class, and there were instances of malicious damage to pupils’ work.  The school knew they needed to change and started asking around for help.

The school heard about Think IT through the local authority.  When the school first spoke to Think IT about their problems, they understood that each school is different in its challenges. From the choices the school had made with relation to kit, software, connectivity provider, and of course people.

The school signed up for the Think IT Cloud Readiness Assessment that looks at three areas: Vision; Technology; and Finance. The first stage was a workshop with the school Senior Leadership Team to explore their vision and the outcomes they wanted from IT.  Like many schools, common themes that came up were: being able to access data and applications out of school; security and e-safety; devices that work in the classroom; being able to control what the pupils were doing in the classroom; and better communication with parents. 

The next stage was where Think IT technical resources reviewed the existing IT estate, including kit, connectivity and wifi infrastructure, to see what was fit for purpose, what could be re-used and what would need to be replaced. The final piece was to look at the school’s finances and investigate what they are already spending on IT and where savings might be made.

All of that was combined into a report that made a series of recommendations and set out a plan for implementing those recommendations over an 18-month period.  The plan included a change programme involving training for staff and developing new ways of working.  One of the recommendations was to take advantage of financing arrangements to get the benefits of improvements immediately, while spreading the costs and giving budget certainty over the three-year period. The recommendations were presented to the Governors for approval, and the go-ahead was given.

Now, two years on the school has been transformed.  They now have fibre-to-the building connectivity, providing super-fast connectivity.  The WIFI infrastructure has been overhauled and new wireless access points installed to eliminate hot-spots.  Interactive screens in the classrooms have been upgraded and now both students and staff can share presentations, documents and screens wirelessly.  Devices work first time, every time and boot up in seconds, not minutes.  And teachers can control what students are doing on their device at any time, ensuring they are focused on task, not on distractions. They have moved their email and productivity tools to the cloud, so documents are always backed up and software is up-to-date, increasing security and reducing the risk of a cyber-attack. Perhaps most importantly, staff morale and confidence in IT has gone up significantly. 

“Since using the services of Think IT and their partners, we have seen improvements in staff productivity and collaboration, and an increased use of innovative technology to support teaching & learning.” Senior School Leader
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